Solas Awards Celebration a Success
On October 30, 2014, over 500 supporters of the Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) gathered to celebrate our 25th anniversary at the IIIC's annual Solas Awards Celebration. It was a memorable occasion led by Massachusetts State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, who took the opportunity to teach everyone a little Irish! It was wonderful to connect with old friends and new, to voice our gratitude for the contributions immigrants make in our communities every day, and to hear from some inspiring speakers - especially our 2014 Solas Award recipients: Sister Lena Deevy, LSA; Susan J. Cohen; and Richard E. Holbrook. We are particularly grateful for the generous contributions of our sponsors and guests, who helped us, raise significant funding in support of IIIC's legal, wellness, education, and learning exchange programs.
Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers Update
The Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) in Boston has worked closely with other Irish immigration centers throughout the United States since 1996 when the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers (CIIC) was founded to coordinate advocacy, social services and share good practices. The Centers are located in Massachusetts, New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Philadelphia, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the Coalition is a strong voice for the needs of Irish Immigrants, and advocate for fair and just immigration legislation for all immigrants.
On October 23 2014, Ronnie Millar, executive director of the Irish International Immigrant Center was elected vice-president of CIIC’s Board of Directors. Millar said, “I am honored to serve the wider Irish immigrant community in this capacity. There have been tremendous benefits to collaborating with the other Centers, and I am looking forward to building on that good work.”
For more information on the Coalition of Irish Immigration please see ciic-usa.org and on Facebook.
Visa Waiver Travelers Face More Screening
Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, announced on November 3 that his Department is adding new screening requirements for travelers from all of the 38 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries including most of Europe. In order to travel to the U.S. without a visa from these countries, visitors must get approval through an online system called Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, and pay a fee.
For the first time, U.S. officials said, such travelers will be required to disclose in their travel application whether they hold passports from multiple countries, or have previously used alternate names or aliases — data that can enable a more accurate screening against U.S. terrorism watch lists.
U.S. officials went on to say that the changes were driven by concern over how many citizens from “visa-waiver” countries have fought in Syria and, because of their citizenship, hold passports that enable them to travel relatively freely across Europe and potentially to the United States. Secretary Johnson said that the new requirements “will not hinder lawful trade and travel.”
“Sick Time” Bill Passes
Massachusetts voters have approved, by a wide margin, a ballot measure allowing workers at companies with at least 11 employees to earn paid sick time. Workers can earn one hour of paid time off for personal illness or medical appointments, for an illness in the family, or to deal with a domestic abuse situation for every 30 hours worked. The law takes effect in July 2015.
TRUTHFUL ANSWERS IN IMMIGRATION APPLICATIONS: PLAY IT STRAIGHT
Q: I’m applying for legal permanent residence in the US, based on my marriage to a US citizen. I’m undocumented, and I’ve been working here for several years without authorization from the immigration authorities. I see that the forms involved in the process for getting a green card include questions about my employment history as far back as five years ago. I’m concerned that my application will be denied if I list my jobs in the US. What should I do?
A: Quite simply, you need to tell the truth in response to all the questions on the forms filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This means not just making true statements; it also means not omitting facts when asked for them.
Some applicants want to say that they have been unemployed for their entire time in the US or just leave blanks where job information is sought. There are two major problems with doing so if the false statement or omission is detected: (1) The immigration benefit sought will be denied, and the applicant will risk deportation; and (2) making a false statement or omitting a material fact on an application form (as well as submitting any false documents to accompany an application) is equivalent to perjury, a federal felony that could result not just in deportation but prosecution and imprisonment in the US beforehand.
Likewise, some applicants think that they can deny past involvement with the criminal justice system in the US or abroad, omit reference to past entries into the US, past marriages, and the like, and no one will know. This belief often is based on hearsay about some acquaintance that got away with this sometime in the past. However, applicants need to realize that the enforcement climate with regard to immigration is very different now than it was before September 11, 2001. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI run criminal background checks on applicants that reach records worldwide. In addition, US arrival and departure records are held in a computerized database and are easily retrievable by immigration officers. Finally, the interviews for adjustment of status applicants are conducted by experienced USCIS officers who are adept at detecting falsehoods in applications.
Therefore, it is crucial to understand the importance of submitting complete and accurate applications to USCIS. The good news for adjustment of status applicants who are immediate relatives of US citizens (spouses, parents, unmarried children under 21) is that unlawful presence in the US and unauthorized unemployment are not in themselves grounds for denying an application.
Likewise, minor criminal offenses, if openly disclosed, are not necessarily a bar to permanent residence. Nevertheless, anyone who has a criminal record, no matter how minor and how long ago, and no matter what the outcome of the case was, needs advice from a lawyer competent to practice immigration law before proceeding with any application to US immigration authorities.
You can visit one of IIIC’s weekly legal clinics for a free, confidential consultation on this or any other immigration law issue.
Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. Immigration law is always subject to change. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Department of State frequently amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of IIIC legal services staff.
U.S. Citizenship Now
Before we all are caught up in the frenzy of the coming holidays, this might be a good time to stop and consider applying for U.S. citizenship prior to the end of the year. The Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) can help make that a reality for you. The IIIC is holding a Citizenship Workshop on Monday, November 17 at 4:00pm at its Downtown Crossing office. We invite all Permanent Residents who are eligible to attend the Workshop and obtain assistance with the preparation, completion, and filing of their naturalization applications. Pre-registration is required. For more information, please contact Ambreen at 617-542-7654 Ext 41 or [email protected]
Free Film Screening
Join us on Wednesday, November 19 at 5:30 PM at the Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) for a free film screening of Which Way Home, a documentary that shares the stories of immigrants through the eyes of unaccompanied children from Central America who face harrowing dangers during their journeys to the United States.
Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion of the film and the subject of immigration. Panelists include Avi Chomsky, History Professor at Salem State College; Jeannie Kain, IIIC Managing Attorney; and Howard Silverman, immigration attorney. Cristina Aguilera of the Massachusetts Refugee and Immigrant Advocacy Coalition will moderate the panel. Advanced registration is suggested. Call Johanne Meleance at 617-542-7654, Ext. 13 or email [email protected]
CPR Training at the IIIC
The Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) held a successful Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification workshop on November 4 in Quincy. The workshop took place as part of the IIIC’s series of workshops aimed at those who are working or hoping to work as Home Health Aides. The workshops are open to all and the CPR class last week was widely attended. Previous workshops have covered topics such as nutrition for elderly persons, stress management techniques, and suicide prevention techniques. In addition to providing valuable and useful information, the workshops have proved to be very enjoyable social evenings for members of the Irish community in Boston.
The CPR class taught resuscitation and basic life saving techniques for adults, children and infants and all of the trainees are now formally CPR certified. The IIIC will be continuing to host the Home Health Aide workshop series early in the coming year. If you are interested in participating, please contact Iarla on 617- 542- 7654, x 32 or by emailing [email protected]
Quote of the Week
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” - President John Fitzgerald Kennedy